Kansas edges No. 18 Arkansas, 4-3

Anastasia Rychagova returned a point during her 6-2, 6-3 No. 1 singles win.

Kansas 4, #18 Arkansas 3
Varsity Tennis Center
Columbus, Ohio
 January 27, 2018


No. 1 Oparenovic/Rice (UA) def. Khmelnitckaia/Nikolaeva (KU) 7-5
No. 2 Pairone/Jurasic (UA) def. Koch/Toran Ribes (KU) 6-0
No. 3 Rychagova/Vogasari (KU) def. Cepelyte/Arakawa (UA) 6-1

Order of Finish: 2,3,1


No. 1 #1 Rychagova (KU) def. Oparenovic (UA) 6-2, 6-3
No. 2 #94 Vogasari (KU) def. Jurasic (UA) 7-6 (5), 7-5
No. 3 Pairone (UA) def. #90 Koch (KU) 6-1, 7-5
No. 4 #112 Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Arakawa (UA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 Toran Ribes (KU) def. Rice (UA) 6-2, 7-6 (3)
No. 6 Cepelyte (UA) def. Nikolaeva (KU) 7-6 (5), 6-2

Order of Finish: 1,5,3,6,2,4

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kansas junior Nina Khmelnitckaia came back in three sets to give the Jayhawks their first win of the season over No. 18-ranked Arkansas Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center.
Kansas (1-2) was already trailing 1-0 in the match after losing the doubles point and No. 112 Khmelnitckaia opened her singles match against Arkansas’ Natsuho Arakawa at the fourth spot with a 6-4 first-set loss.  The overall momentum of the match changed, as Khmelnitckaia fought hard in the second set to win, 6-3, and send the match to a third. With the match on the line, Khmelnitckaia and Arakawa were tied at 3-3. Khmelnitckaia won three games in-a-row to edge the Razorback in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory and claim the overall match point for Kansas.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the fight and grit we showed (Saturday),” said head coach Todd Chapman. “We have faced a lot of adversity this spring so far and to see the girls respond with their backs against the wall was unbelievable. We had a couple girls questionable for the match and to watch them go out and give everything they had was so great to see. We talked last night about having courage in the big moments and I think tonight was a great example of that.”
Playing her first singles match of the spring season, No. 1-ranked Anastasia Rychagova got out to a quick start against Ana Oparenovic, taking the first set, 6-2, on court one. Finding herself down, 3-2, Rychagova showed deserving of her ranking by winning four-consecutive games to come out on top, 6-2, 6-3, and tie the overall match, 1-1.
At the No. 5 spot, Maria Toran Ribes continued her hot streak by downing Tatum Rice, 6-2, in the first set. She then won five games in-a-row to take a 6-5 lead in the second set. Rice tied it at 6-6 and sent the set to a breaker. Toran Ribes prevailed, claiming a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory to give Kansas a 2-1 lead and remain perfect in dual match singles action this season.
Seeing Giulia Pairone in singles on court three, No. 90 Janet Koch was not able to overcome her doubles opponent, falling, 6-1, in the first set. In the second set, Koch was down, 5-2, before winning three-straight points to tie the set at 5-5. Pairone outlasted the Jayhawk, clinching the tying match point with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Koch.
In a first set that went back-and-forth for every point, it was only fitting that Tatiana Nikolaeva and Agne Cepelyte played a breaker. Nikolaeva took a 5-1 lead, but the Razorback claimed six points in-a-row to win the first set, 7-6 (5). Cepelyte commanded her way through the second at the No. 6 spot to top Nikolaeva, 7-6 (5), 6-2, and give Arkansas a 3-2 match lead.
Playing on court two, No. 94 Despoina Vogasari jumped out to an early 4-3 lead over Mia Jurasic in the first set. The pair found themselves tied at 6-6 and headed to a breaker. Vogasari came out on top to take the first set, 7-6 (5). Vogasari trailed most of the second set before taking three-consecutive games to win the match, 7-6 (5), 7-5, tying the overall score at 3-3.
“I have a lot of respect for Arkansas (1-2) and (Saturday) was a great step forward for this team,” said Chapman. “We will enjoy this tonight and get back home and start preparing for a really good N.C. State team next weekend in our home opener.”
Facing Pairone and Jurasic, the Kansas duo of Koch and Toran Ribes were not able to find their grove, falling, 6-0, on court two. Rychagova and Vogasari won their third-straight doubles match, downing Cepelyte and Arakawa, 6-1, at the No. 3 spot.
In what seemed to be a repeat of Friday’s match, the deciding point came down to Khmelnitckaia and Nikolaeva on court one. Knotted at 3-3 against Oparenovic and Rice when the other two matches finished, Khmelnitckaia was able to find the hole and put Kansas up, 4-3. She then double faulted to bring the eighth game to 40 all with Arkansas ultimately tying it at 4-4. Finding the match tied at 5-5, Oparenovic and Rice won two-straight games to take the doubles point.
The Jayhawks will return to Lawrence for their home-opener on Saturday, February 3 at 1 p.m., at the Jayhawk Tennis Center.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.